New Flea Market? Not In My Neighborhood.

Feb 24, 2009 by

fleamarket There is a a new business coming to Norfolk Virginia that has the City Council and local neighborhoods up in arms. For over 4 years the City Council has had an ordinance that requires anyone desiring to open a thrift store in Norfolk to obtain a “special exception.” It appears that the growth plan the city of Norfolk has in mind does not include businesses like thrift stores.

Now, local businessman Bill Barry is opening an indoor flea market in an old bowling alley on Military Highway and the city is not happy. According to Councilman W. Randy Wright, flea markets and thrift stores are unwelcome in Norfolk. Thrift stores and outdoor flea markets have spouted up in old movie theaters, junk yards and department stores by the dozens. But the ordinance that requires obtaining a “special exception” for thrift stores does not apply to flea markets. It seems that when the city composed its ordinance, it neglected to require indoor flea markets to obtain a permit. The ordinance only covers stores that sell used merchandise. In order to be defined as an indoor flea market, 50 percent or more of a store’s merchandise must be new.

To quote Councilman W. Randy Wright.

This one slipped by us. We’re trying to upgrade Little Creek Road and Military Highway. This is not in keeping with what we’re trying to do.

It seems to me that the city of Norfolk should be welcoming the new indoor flea market, not wringing it’s collective hands. With the economy being in the greatest recession since the great depression, I don’t think more boutiques and specialty stores with their high prices will do well. On the other hand, stores selling used merchandise and new, discounted merchandise should do extremely well. If it were not for the flea markets and thrift stores opening in Norfolk, it stands to reason that the buildings and lots they are housed in would be standing empty and not contributing any taxes to Norfolk’s coffers.

J. Lindsay Bilisoly, a commercial real estate agent who leased the space to Bill’s Flea Market, was surprised to hear of neighborhood and city opposition.

I know it’s not a Whole Foods Market. It’s Bill’s Flea Market. But in this economy, to find anyone willing to lease 40,000 square feet is so difficult.

Glenn Bonney, who heads a civic league that represents four area neighborhoods, expressed his doubts.

Our members are upset because there are so many flea markets and thrift stores in this area. We were pretty shocked to hear another flea market was opening.

I guess Bonney would rather the 40,000 square feet stand unused. If the economy was flourishing then maybe his wishes could be granted and some upscale boutiques and specialty stores opened instead. But the reality of the economy is such that for now you have to take what you can get, and flea markets and thrift stores are what you get. At least they will contribute to the tax base, which will benefit those same neighbors who are complaining about them. And it wouldn’t hurt if some of those neighbors frequented a thrift store or flea market instead of paying full price somewhere else. Every penny saved is a penny that can be spent somewhere else, which will go a long way to revitalizing the economy.

The grand dreams of the Norfolk City Council will have to wait until the economy can support those dreams. For now they should be waiving any “special exceptions” and welcoming Bill’s Flea Market.

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Recession, recession, where is the recession?

May 4, 2008 by

recessionI know the economy is not in the greatest condition. Sure the price of gas is at an all time high, the price of food is climbing, and foreclosures are epidemic. But those factors do not add up to a recession. I hear the word recession used constantly without regard to the fact that the economy is not in a recession. In a recent CNN poll, 75% of the respondents said that the economy was in a recession. On TWIT (This Week in Tech), Leo Laporte and another guest said that we were in a recession. Luckily two other guests on the show were quick to point out that the economy was in fact not in a recession. But the Democrats want you to believe that we are in a recession. We are in a recession they say, and only the Democrats can save the economy. Don’t vote for the Republicans because they are the ones who put us in a recession. It seems that if enough people scream the R word that everyone will start believing it. I will grant that the economy may be stagnant, or growing at a slow pace, but it is not in a recession. A recession is defined as:

A period of general economic decline; specifically, a decline in GDP for two or more consecutive quarters.

There has not been a decline in GDP for any quarter this year. Granted that the definition of a recession should also include changes in the unemployment rate or consumer confidence, but even when including both indicators it is not accurate to state that the economy is in a recession. I wish that people would not attempt to paint something as what it is not just so they can promote an agenda. When the economy is in a recession, say so, if not don’t call it what it is not. Quit trying to frighten people or mislead them by distorting the facts. People need to stop taking for granted what others say and use a little common sense and think things through for themselves before deciding on the validity of something.

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